We visited Durst India in Greater Noida recently to understand its working with one of the most renowned brands in the imaging industry over the past century. The Indian joint venture with the ink chemist Dr Rajiv Verma goes back about a decade to 2012 and is similar to Durst’s way of working with local partners in several other markets outside of Europe.
The company has legacy of inventions for imaging that made modern cameras possible. Its reflex camera patents include the interlocking between shutter operation and advance of film and numbering in 1947. Our own familiarity with Durst stems from our use of its enlargers to screen and enlarge pan film and scanner color separations in the 1970s.
Durst is currently a digital imaging company relying on inkjet technologies. It manufactures wide-format Rho and Rhotex signage printers, Tau digital label presses, Gamma XD ceramic printers and Alpha textile printers and more recently in a joint venture with Koenig & Bauer, an inkjet corrugated board press. The Koenic & Bauer Durst collaboration has just installed a Delta SPC 130 single-pass press with water-based food-safe inks for corrugated packaging of food in Austria.
The Durst India joint venture sells the wide format printers and digital textile printers directly with textile industry veteran Vivek Singh heading the sales operations in the South Asia region. The Durst Tau digital label presses are sold through a distributor based in Chennai. Vivek Singh, explained that although the company’s printers are at the high end of the various segments they address, Durst India has been able to establish a surprisingly robust footprint of installations in both the signage and digital textile industry. In addition, the company dominates the ceramic tile decoration industry with more than 70 installations of its Gamma XD printers in the tile manufacturing capital of the country in Morbi in Gujarat as well as its supply of inks and decorative colors to the overwhelming majority of tile and pottery makers in the country.
In our recent meeting Singh explained that while Durst printers are expensive for most businesses, there are a good number that are able to leverage the quality and speed of the company’s devices. He gave examples of Mumbai-based MMT which operates nine digital signage printers and of Bliss Impex a digital textile printer in Gurugram in the Delhi NCR who produces 20,000 square meters of printed textiles daily.
Durst India has sufficient high-performance installations in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to keep its 20 service engineers stationed in Moresby, Ahmedabad, and Gurgaon on their toes. In addition, it has two engineers at its labs in Greater Noida for refurbishing inkjet heads. The Greater Noida plant is also where the colors for the ceramics are produced and it has recently started manufacturing digital textile prints.
Digital textile printing avoids pollution and saves water
Durst sold its first digital textile printer into India in 2013. Singh says the Indian market matured by 2016 with the capacity to induct 200 square meters an hour digital textile printers. Explained the evolution of faster textile printers, he says, “The first textile printer introduced by Durst was back in 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. In a span of 8 years, we evolved and have recently introduced a textile printer that can print 1,400 square meters an hour. With our latest range of printers, we plan to target textile producers, who have production close to 3,00,000 meters a month.”
The success of Durst India seems to be in being able to convince future-seeking entrepreneurs in what were earlier seen as unstructured or unorganized sectors relying on manual operations. Singh says, “Digital textile printing is growing exponentially in India. Digital is a future-oriented technology. The processing of textiles requires a huge amount of water and labor. The after-effect of the entire process is widespread pollution. With the rising labor costs, one has to adopt digital technology. There is also a rise in waterless printing technologies. After the processing of textiles, millions of gallons of water is wasted on steaming and washing that goes down as wastewater, unfit for consumption even after many years and contaminates freshwater if mixed with it.”
Durst uses pigment-based inks for printing. This reduces the wastage of millions of gallons of water by using a pigment that is an insoluble ink carrier instead of a dye that is a soluble ink carrier to provide coloration. These inks contain resin binders that allow the pigment particles to adhere to the fabric and allow the ink to be used for a range of fabric types.